Spread the Word

Subject: English / Language Arts
Grade Levels: K-2, 3-5
Source: Cable in the Classroom

Louise Brown spent her 30-year career teaching English in Montgomery County (MD) public schools. Since retiring, she has become a full-time volunteer coordinating Wood-to-Wonderful's Reading is Toyrific. This literacy outreach program motivates young children from low-income families to read by pairing each student with local volunteer mentors and by providing each child with a library of age-appropriate books and corresponding toys. As program coordinator, Brown recruits volunteers, selects schools to participate, contacts local principals and teachers, selects books and toys and plans monthly Reading is Toyrific sessions.

Reading is Toyrific was implemented in the fall of 2003 in one local school with 10 Comcast employees serving as monthly readers for 240 pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first-grade children from poverty-level families. The program has expanded to include three schools and more than 700 children in 35 classrooms. The cable partnership with Wood-to-Wonderful has also continued to grow, with Comcast employees now representing one-third of Reading is Toyrific's 60 volunteers.

Brown says the most telling element of the program's success is the yearly evaluations from parents when they are asked how the program is helping their child. Some of their comments include: "He is doing better in school and is motivated to read;" "It has helped him speak English better;" "She acts out the story and uses her imagination;" "He practices reading at home, is careful with the books, and has started his own library;" and "The books brought my daughter and me together more. I read and she reads after me."

"Studies show that in order to become successful readers and students, children must be immersed in books at an early age, and Reading is Toyrific volunteers help do just that. Comcast employees participate in Reading is Toyrific each month, reading a book to the same kindergarten or first-grade class throughout the school year. Comcast employees provide children with ongoing encouragement and serve as positive role models for dedicated community involvement." Louise Brown

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